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Cirencester, Gloucestershire

PUBLISHED: 11:37 16 December 2010 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 February 2013

Photography by Anna Lythgoe

Photography by Anna Lythgoe

When Simon Smith, manager of Cirencester Farmers' Market, got a phone call from a potential new stallholder, he was delighted to find they wanted to sell a traditional favourite: Old Spot pork.

When Simon Smith, manager of Cirencester Farmers' Market, got a phone call from a potential new stallholder, he was delighted to find they wanted to sell a traditional favourite: Old Spot pork.


It was only when he arrived at the farm, just outside Cirencester, and found he had to wait to be cleared to get through the gate, that he realised it was Elizabeth Hurley's pad. "I had no idea," he laughs. "It was the product that really appealed."


Surely, this being Cirencester, there's a raft of famous faces to be spotted at the market?


"I don't know," he confesses. "I don't have a television. I might recognise their voices if they've been on the radio, though."


There are high profile producers - as well as shoppers - here, of course. Alongside Ms Hurley's farm produce you'll find organic vegetables from Duchy Home Farm; and that great ambassador for farmers, Lord Apsley, has been a huge supporter from the start.


But the one thing all stallholders have in common is a real love of producing 'proper' food and drink, whether it's Easy Bee honey, wine from Bow-in-the-Cloud Vineyard, or milk and cream from Holmleigh Dairy. "Over the years, we've weeded out all the grumpy producers!" Simon says. "Everyone loves what they do, and we all get on very well together."


Last month, the market celebrated its 10th anniversary, with Pam Ayres awarding prizes, and a cookery demonstration by Jackie Llewelyn-Bowen and Cotswold Chef Rob Rees. Rob, of course, is regularly there with his frying pan, choosing produce on the day from one of the 30-plus stalls: inspiration and delicious aromas at one fell swoop. Certainly, whatever he chooses to cook seems to fly into shopping bags afterwards.


The fact that local people love their food proved very much to their advantage when former Bibendum chef Bob Parkinson was looking for somewhere to open his restaurant and deli, Made By Bob. He chose the newly-redeveloped Corn Hall as the tastiest location.


"Cirencester has such a good catchment area, and it's a great place to be: a really beautiful town," he says. "And surprisingly, there wasn't anyone doing what I wanted to do."


Which is?


"Bring a bit of the City to the Cotswolds."


Locals were obviously hungry for the concept because there's hardly been a free table since it opened six months ago. Bob's now thinking about taking it further, with outside catering and mail order - but all in good time. "We need to find our feet first," he wisely says.


In a town that's been around since Roman times, there's really no hurry. Indeed, that's what Cirencester does best: invites people to slow down, to relax and to enjoy - especially when it comes to their food.




Don't miss Cirencester's Advent Festival on November 29 when there'll be a lights switch-on, children's parade, carol concert in the parish church, fair rides in the Market Place, entertainment, an Advent Market in the Corn Hall and Santa's grotto in New Brewery Arts. Watch out for full details at www.adventfestival.co.uk and on posters around the town.



Cirencester Farmers' Market is held from 9am-1pm on the second and fourth Saturdays; www.cirencesterfarmersmarket.com







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